Justice Inc. and the Importance of Justice & Equality

The Founding of Justice

Justice Inc. was founded in Indianapolis in 1980. Initially without a headquarters, the first several leaders of the organization lived on the near eastside of Indianapolis. The founding of Justice Inc. was a pivotal moment for the Indianapolis LGBT+ community as people began to work more publicly for LGBT+ recognition, acceptance, and rights in the city.

When Justice Inc. was founded, public pride events were scarce throughout the nation. The first official pride event had taken place in New York City's Greenwich Village in 1970 on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Raid. Ten thousand protestors attended in response to the violence and injustices they had endured.  In 1979, a massive march in Washington, D.C. for Gay and Lesbian Rights inspired local communities to establish LGBT+ rights organizations, including Justice Inc. The first pride celebration in Indiana happened in 1990, organized by Justice Inc. This organization worked for the local LGBT+ communities until the organization merged with the Indiana Equality Coalition and Indy Pride in the mid-2000s.

Seeking Justice for Indy

Justice Inc. led the fight for equality in education, law, and healthcare for LGBT+ citizens of Indianapolis. The group worked to identify LGBT+ friendly organizations, promote LGBT+ businesses, and provide support for LGBT+ communities. Early in the fight for rights, the organization voiced their concerns with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission about violence, discrimination, and other issues negatively impacting LGBT+ citizens. Justice Inc. worked to protect and promote pride, health, and community.

Marks of Progress and Telling the Story

Through the work of organizations like Justice Inc., many U.S. cities have transformed into inclusive and diverse spaces, receptive to the LGBT+ community. In 2014, Indianapolis scored 82/100 – well above the national average of 59 – in the annual Municipality Equality Index, a study conducted by the Human Rights Campaign to measure LGBT+ equality around the country. The study also highlighted areas of improvement, such as providing transgender-inclusive health benefits and hiring a mayor’s liaison focused on LGBT+ issues.  

Little has been written about Justice Inc.’s contributions and history. This is common for much of LGBT+ history throughout the nation. This “LGBT+ History in Indianapolis Tour” hopes to generate more awareness about the work of justice organizations in the past and present.


Kathy Sarris, President of Justice, Inc.

Kathy Sarris, President of Justice, Inc.

Kathy Sarris, president of Justice, Inc., appeared on the daytime television show ‘Oprah’ in 1986 to promote gay rights and speak out about anti-gay violence, which was commonplace throughout the nation. Image courtesy of the Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives and IUPUI Digital Collections. | Source: The Works, Chris Gonzales Library and Archives, IUPUI Digital Collections. | Creator: The Works, Berg Investment Corp. View File Details Page

First Pride Celebration in Indiana

First Pride Celebration in Indiana

Justice, Inc. organized the first public pride weeklong celebration in Indiana in 1990. Mayor William H. Hudnut also declared a Gay Pride Week in Indianapolis, the first time in the history of the city. Image courtesy of the Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives and IUPUI Digital Collections. | Source: The New Works News, Chris Gonzales Library and Archives, IUPUI Digital Collections. | Creator: The New Works News View File Details Page

Municipality Equality Index

Municipality Equality Index

Map from the Human Rights Campaign, shows the cities that scored perfect equality scores in 2014. The success and national prominence of many of these highlighted cities demonstrate how equality creates economic opportunity and higher housing values, providing another argument for the endorsement of equality nationally. Image courtesy of Human Rights Campaign | Source: Human Rights Campaign | Creator: Human Rights Campaign, MEI Index Study View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Carolyn Harris, “Justice Inc. and the Importance of Justice & Equality,” Discover Indiana, accessed October 19, 2018, http://indyhist.iupui.edu/items/show/85.


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